'Pen, defense stumble as lead melts away
A's fall to 1-16 when trailing after the 7th inning
OAKLAND -- The A's continual late-inning meltdowns are past the point of exasperating, which is why few words remain when another one unfolds, as was the case Friday in a 7-6 loss to the White Sox.
"Same answer," said manager Bob Melvin. "It's tough."
A's pitchers allowed five runs in the seventh, nullifying a 6-2 lead and upping their run total in that frame to 35 in 37 games on the season.
The defense's role cannot be ignored, though.
Oakland's Major League-leading 37th error of the season, a one-out fielding miscue by third baseman Brett Lawrie in the fateful seventh, was followed by a Carlos Sanchez single, marking the end to Jesse Hahn's impressive night. That's when right-hander Fernando Rodriguez got what appeared to be an inning-ending double play on a grounder off the bat of Adam Eaton, who barely beat out the throw to first by second baseman Eric Sogard.
Rodriguez then gave up an RBI single to Melky Cabrera and hit Jose Abreu with a pitch, loading the bases for Fernando Abad, who served up a two-run double to Adam LaRoche on a 2-0 fastball. The A's still held a 6-5 lead at that point, but not for long. Evan Scribner's second pitch was smoked by Avisail Garcia for a go-ahead, two-run double.
Scribner struck out his final four batters, albeit too late, and the A's nearly plated the tying run in the ninth, but Stephen Vogt was caught in a rundown, and the A's fell to 1-16 when trailing after the seventh.
"I gotta somehow find the right answer in that inning," Melvin said. "Obviously we've struggled with it. We had three guys in the inning we felt like could do the job, just couldn't get it done."
"[Hahn] threw the ball so well, and to see the lead go away like that, that's what's been hurting us all year is a couple defensive errors, and it seems like teams just capitalize on that," said Vogt. "They smell blood, and they just go for it."